Some good news for music education in the United States: the U.S. Senate named music as a "core subject" in its Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposal, the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), which passed Thursday with strong support on all sides, with a final vote of 81 to 17.
"By naming music and arts as core subjects in the Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate has acknowledged and begun to address the national problem of the narrowing of the curriculum that has taken place under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for more than a decade now," said the National Association for Music Education.
This did not happen without a major effort. Earlier in 2015, music advocates sent more than 14,000 letters to legislators, asking that "music" be specifically recognized and named in the legislation as a core academic subject.
Now the legislation goes to a conference committee to be reconciled with the House of Representatives's version, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5), which passed by a much narrower 218-213. (Here's more about it from the National Education Association>)
According to this article, this is the difference:
No Child Left Behind's list of core academic subjects: "English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography."
The Senate's proposal includes a broader range of academic subjects:
Every Child Achieves Act's list of core academic subjects: "English, reading or language arts, writing, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, geography, computer science, music, and physical education, and any other subject as determined by the state or local educational agency."
Why does this matter? Because it helps us move toward including music education as an essential discipline in children's lives: a discipline worthy class time, worthy of a thoughtful and rigorous curriculum, and worthy of adequate funding and resources. Music does not have the same kind of educational effect when it is relegated to the "extracurricular," when it is taught by part-timers with inadequate materials, when it is funded in a piecemeal and unreliable way. Let's hope this is a step in the direction of rebuilding our system of support for music education in the United States.
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